If there’s one question I get asked over and over again by home buyers, it’s “Where do you think we should live?”
I usually answer this key question with another question: “Are schools are important to you?”
If schools are important to a buyer, it definitely impacts the home search process. In Austin there’s a little something for everyone. Schools with a specific academic focus. Schools that cater to children with unique needs. Charter schools, private schools, language immersion schools. You name it, we’ve got it.
And because school choice is an intimately personal decision, we don’t offer an opinion on the quality of schools or make recommendations on what school zone a person should live in. We do, however, try to guide our clients through the process so that we can help them focus on particular residential areas that align with their school preferences.
Define your ideal school.
We start by recommending that home buyers figure out what they want in a school. This includes thinking about the child’s needs and interests or educational philosophy that aligns with the family’s own education goals.
Many people aren’t sure what their ideal school looks like. To those folks we recommend doing some online research to familiarize yourself with the variety of educational programs available within Austin. Be open minded, and consider all of the possibilities.
Narrow down the neighborhoods to align with your top choices of ideal schools.
Once a home buyer has an idea of the schools or school zone they are interested in, we help them narrow their home search to align with their price point and the identified school districts or attendance zones. This is more important if public schools are a driving factor, less so if the family is interested in private or charter schools where attendance in a particular geographic area isn’t relevant. Also remember that some Austin-area school districts or campuses allow for transfers, while others do not, so geographic location may not play a vital role.
Tour homes in the target neighborhoods.
Every Austin neighborhood is a little different with its own unique vibe and culture – and pricing. We like to take home buyers on informative tours to look at houses in a variety of neighborhoods. We usually start by looking at 5 – 6 neighborhoods and ultimately narrow it down to 1 – 2 preferred locations.
Once you’ve narrowed the location down, we suggest visiting the schools in those areas that align with your concept of the ideal school. Visit with the campus administration, tour the campus, talk to teachers. Focus on multiple grade levels, not just the grade level your child or children are enrolling in. Better yet, observe the school at morning drop off and afternoon pick up to get a feel for the school community and culture. If possible, try to visit with other homeowners in the area to see what their experience is at the school in question.
And don’t overlook the vertical alignment of schools within the area. Some neighborhoods have strong elementary schools but there can be a dramatic shift at the middle school or high school level.
An expert’s take on finding the right school
We recently sat down with Austin Independent School Board Member Julie Cowan to get her take on aligning your home search with your search for the right school. As a mother and a long-time Austin resident, Julie offers some key insights on this May 2018 episode of the American Dream TV Show.
Follow your instincts
When it comes time to decide on a house – and a school – follow your instincts. Where are you most comfortable? What feels like the right fit? We can give advice, but in the end it’s your life, your home, and your family.
Please reach out if you have questions or want to talk more about your Austin home search. We offer free consults with no obligation and no BS.
© Homesville Real Estate 2018
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